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Garage door opener, for single door
Home Maintenance and Structures
Doors & Windows
Automatic Garage Doors or Door Openers (138)
Genie Company Model H400A
Home Depot
6/6/2011 This date is an estimate
About a week prior to March 18, 2011, I came home from work. My husband had opened the garage door. When I got out of the car I smelt something that smelled like burning plastic or rubber. I asked him what was burning. He said nothing. I went out the back door of the garage and I could smell it on the patio so I thought maybe one of the neighbors was burning something.
Prior to March 18, 2011 I usually used the garage door twice a day--once to leave to work and then when I came home.
On March 18, 2011 I exited my garage door at aproximately 10:00 AM and came back in at 2:00 PM.
I immediately came into the house. I had used the garage door opener to close the garage door.
At about 4:00 PM, I woke up from my nap and my husband told me to go out to the garage and look at it. I did so. I did not see anything, but I smelt a heavy odor of smoke, again it smelled like burning rubber or plastic. He told me to look up. I did. The garage door opener plastic cover had melted onto the top of my car. The top of the ceiling, above the garage door opener was black with smoke.
When my husband installed the garage door opener in 2004, he had not installed in directly to the ceiling, He had used a 1x6 and built it to support the garage door opener. That is what saved our house from burning.
We contacted Genie and they had someone from Overhead Doors come out. The installer was impressed with the way our door openers were installed. He told us that was the best installation he had ever seen.
We sent the motor and pictures to Genie. They told they were not liable because it was not the motor that had caught on fire. It was external.
We agree with Genie it was not the motor of the garage door opener. It was the plastic, opaque cover.
The plastic cover of the Genie garage door opener has an inside lip or small shelf.
Prior to March 18, 2011, we had seen a small finch in our garage. It had built a nest on the shelf onthe inside of the plastic cover. However, we did not know that until after the fire. The plastic cover is opaque and there is no way to know that anything had gotten into it unless the cover is taken off. When do you take off the cover? Only if a bulb burns out. We could not even remember when we had replaced the bulbs.
Our contention is that there is a safety issue concerning the opaque, plastic cover. Because the cover is opaque, it cannot be determined if something--spiders, mice, roaches, (in our case a bird), had gotten into the cover. It is open enough for anyting, including debris to get up on that shelf on the inside.
We cannot help but wonder how many fires that may have started in a garage can be contributed to an incident such as ours. We were lucky because of they way our opener was installed. If the 1x6 had not been directly installed over the garage door opener, the fire would have caught our ceiling on fire. Because of what is stored in most garages, it stands to reason that it would be difficult to determine the cause of the fire. Or, if it had gotten into our attic, it would also stand to reason that someone would have said it was an electrical fire or something causing the fire in our attic.
Again, we believe the cause of the fire is the way the cover is designed and it opaqueness. It melted very quickly and was very hot. It melted the paint off the top of my car down to the bare metal.
We do have have photographs of the damage.
The garage door opener is model H4000 A made by Genie Company.

Incident, No Injury
Genie had Overhead Door come out and inspect opener. We sent motor to Genie. They said it was an external fire that it had not been caused by the motor.

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